Uncharacteristic Characters

I realized something odd about Unexpected, specifically about the female characters in the story.

They are all kind of, well, the best word for them is one that isn’t really appropriate for this blog.  You can imagine the word I mean.

Most of my books to date have strong, intelligent women as central characters.  In fact, until Unexpected, my main characters had all been women.  While there are two main characters in this one, the primary one, the one whose eyes share most of the story with us, is a guy.  The three females who play major roles are not nice people.

The antagonist (who still needs a name) is a sorceress who seduces men so she can harvest their energy for use in her dark magics.  (Not so nice a person.)

Doug’s ex-wife, Nikki, is a conniving manipulator who only shows up back in his life because she hears he has a new female companion.  She doesn’t want him, but no one else can have him either.  (Also not a nice person.)

Even Kiwi, one of the main characters, is abrasive and curses like a sailor.  We still like her, and I’m hoping that her friendly affection for Doug, however concealed, comes across to the reader.  While she borders on a nice person (hiding beneath a gruff exterior), she’s still not my usual type of female character.

Makes writing this novel that much more interesting, don’t you think?

To use the term ‘princess’ loosely…

I began pondering animated movies on my drive home today.  (I have had several discussions recently, with different people, about the genre.)  Through a variety of steps, my brain landed on the topic of the Disney Princesses.  Disney has had it’s fair share of male protagonists – most of their animal movies have male main characters – but it is the princesses that get the most attention.

Those of you who are familiar with my writing and/or this blog know that I lean toward strong, female protagonists.  I’ve written a few fluffy, silly girls into my books as needed, but most appear when useful before drifting away, not keeping my (or my plot’s) attention.  When considering the female leads in many animated movies, I realized that they are also all strong females in some sense.

According to the Disney Princess website, there are 9 female characters that are considered the “princesses.”  They use the term somewhat loosely; only four start their movies as princesses, and two of them never truly become princesses at all.  (The two who aren’t princesses at any point are Mulan and Pocahontas.  I will argue Pocahontas with you if you want – the daughter of a Native American chief is not really a princess, and I will stand by that.)  I’m also sure that, with Tangled released this summer, Rapunzel will probably round the group out to a nice even ten.

Some of these ladies are stronger individuals than others.  Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), while my sister’s favorite princess, is a fairly wilting flower when you get down to it.  Snow White, too, relies heavily on others to help her through life.  Poor Jasmine, while definitely a strong woman, isn’t even the main character of her movie!  (Let’s face it, she’s the female equivalent to Aurora’s prince.  She’s a major player in the story line, but if your name isn’t in the title of the movie, the movie isn’t about you.) 

Mulan, Tiana (The Princess and the Frog), and Belle (Beauty and the Beast) are the three that stand out to me as the strongest of the Disney ladies.  They are strong, smart, and fight for what they believe.  Pocahontas and Ariel (The Little Mermaid) are both insistent on their individuality, and stand up for themselves, but there are a few moments in their movies when they lapse back into helpless girls.  Granted, real ladies out there probably do the same thing at times, so it’s not fair to expect every female to carry her own every moment. 

To be honest, I never really identified with the princesses available to me growing up, and many of the books I read were lacking in females I could relate to.  My favorite Disney character as a kid, the one who seemed most like me, was Mowgli from The Jungle Book.   I have always been an animal child.  🙂  Now, if forced to choose a “princess,” I’d have to go with Mulan, the only one without even a hint of princess about her. 

From that, and my opinions above, it should be clear why my protagonists are females who are strong and independent, and even the princesses in my stories have another, more important role.